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The Link Between Political Reform -Constitutions And Constitutionalism: Lessons From Zimbabwe

Mr. Shupikayi B. Chimhini
2 Fairbairn Drive Mt. Pleasant, ACBF Boardroom
01 Feb, 2013
11:00 – 13:00 Hrs


The results of the 2008 Presidential elections in Zimbabwe were contested. The dispute that ensued had national and international dimensions; at the national level there was contestation of political power as ‘an internal domestic affair’ and yet, internationally the circumstances obtaining during and after the contested elections required international attention (if not intervention). The stated reason for international intervention was that the subject matter of the dispute was a subject matter of international concern. Resultantly, the Southern African Development Community intervened and facilitated a negotiated outcome that lead to the formation of a coalition government. What lessons are there in how regional organizations can play a critical role in resolving conflict and averting escalation of a crisis?

The overarching objective of the coalition government was to reconcile the feuding parties and establish an environment for free and fair elections. Put differently, the political actors in Zimbabwe ‘found each other’ in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and agreed on a roadmap to reaffirm multi-party democracy.  The process to achieve that outcome was anchored on the assumption that a new constitution would establish a new national ethos for free and fair elections. To this end, a Constitution Select Committee was mandated to consult Zimbabweans, prepare a draft and submit same to a referendum. The process is now nearing completion (three years down the line) against the envisaged eighteen months provided for in the GPA. The process has not only been protracted but also acrimonious. This notwithstanding, the political parties in the GPA have now agreed on a draft text that they are urging their supporters to vote for in the impending referendum. It is anticipated that harmonized Parliamentary and Presidential elections will be held sometime this year. What are the lessons to be drawn in how negotiated political settlements can encourage constitutionalism.  

Thomas Kwesi Quartey

ACBF has been granted the status of a specialized agency because of the potential to transform Africa through capacity development.

H.E. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson, AU Commission
Erastus Mwencha

The recognition of ACBF as the African Union’s Specialized Agency for Capacity Development launches the beginning of a new era for capacity building by ACBF, which will require an appropriate level of political commitment and financial support from all stakeholders.

H.E. Erastus Mwencha, Chair, ACBF Executive Board
Lamin Momodou

The remarkable achievements ACBF has registered over the past 26 years is not by accident in our opinion. They have come through hard work, dedication, commitment, purposeful leadership, support from the member countries as well as productive partnership building.

Mr. Lamin Momodou MANNEH, Director, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa
Goodall Gondwe

Africa needs ACBF as much, probably more now, than at the time it was created in 1991.

Hon. Goodall Gondwe, former Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance – Malawi
Ken Ofori Atta

Ghana’s partnership with ACBF is a tremendous blessing for us and therefore the opportunity for Ghana to host the 26th ACBF Board of Governors Meeting is something that we treasure.

Hon Ken Ofori Atta, Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance - Ghana